Planned Egypt protest becomes memorial for Egyptian dead

A woman is in tears as she hears the casualties of the Egyptian uprising being read in front of City Hall on Saturday in San Francisco. Christine Tjandra | staff writer


In the wake of President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation, approximately 50 demonstrators gathered in front of City Hall to show their support for the Egyptian protestors Saturday. Arabic chants of “Long live Egypt!” rang out, and the day turned into a joyous celebration filled with laughter, music and dance as the planned protest became a rally to honor those who died in the protests.

“They paid the most expensive price which is their own lives,” said 30-year-old Egyptian engineer Ahmed Rushdi. “To all of them, I said, ‘Rest in peace. May God shower you with mercy.’”

More than 300 people died in the 18 days of protests that swept Egypt and took the world by surprise. Inspired by a similar movement in Tunisia, the spirit of rebellion has spread to other countries in the region including Yemen and Algeria. Known as the first and the largest protest of its kind in Egypt, the weeks of unrest caused former Mubarak to resign Friday.

As the names of those who died were read at Saturday’s event, gatherers paid their respects with a moment of silence. Demonstrators carried pictures of the men and women whose sacrifice had brought the hope of a new future for generations to come.

“They have died for a good cause,” said Hatem Bedair, 40, an Egyptian immigrant. “We will always remember them in our prayers.”

It was a bittersweet ending to the days of protests. One woman held back tears as she listened to the names of the people, while others prayed quietly.

Lena Meari, a 37-year-old Palestinian, saw this as a victory for all Arab countries.

“The interests of the Arab world are so connected,” Meari said. “Our problem is all the Arab regimes do not represent the real aspiration and will of the people. After Tunisia, it’s now Egypt. Yesterday, it also started in Algeria. So there’s a hope that people will get rid of all these oppressive regimes.”

The military will rule Egypt temporarily before an open election set for September. Mubarak’s future is still unclear. Organizations in Egypt are said to be working to track the personal wealth he generated from his three decades in power.

“Today is a day pregnant with possibilities,” said Amnesty International organizer Kala Mendoza. “Today is a day infused with hope. We are witnesses of history. Once history is written. It shall say, ‘Egyptian people are victorious.’”